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Cats Host No. 12 Oklahoma State
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/10/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 10, 2009

Arizona (8-5) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma St. (9-2)
Tucson, Arizona
Jerry Kindall Field

Tuesday, March 10 – 7 p.m. (1290 A.M.)
Wednesday, March 11 – 7 p.m.

Arizona Projected Starters
Tuesday: Kyle Simon (1-0, 6.28 ERA)
Wednesday: TBA

Some Series Themes: The Wildcats continue a 13-game homestand, which is nearing its end this coming weekend … The Cowboys on the other hand continue a road swing that took them to Palm Springs for a weekend tournament in which they won three of four games … OSU will be the second nationally ranked opponent to visit Tucson in the last 10 days … Arizona will play its 14th game in 19 days on Tuesday, while OSU will play its eighth game away from home in 12 days … The two programs pride themselves on outstanding pitching, but both staffs have been taxed early in 2009 as is evident by their surprisingly high team ERAs with UA boasting a 4.92 ERA and OSU at 6.40 entering the week … The two clubs have both outscored their opponents by considerably margins, with UA + 26 on the season and OSU + 21 … The Wildcats may have a slight advantage offensively, with a .322 team batting average … OSU is hitting .293 as a team.

UMass Series Recap: Arizona captured two out of three against visiting Massachusetts in the first-ever meetings between the two schools … Arizona won Game 1 (13-4) and Game 3 (9-0), but dropped Game 2 (9-8) despite a late rally after tailing 8-1 in the eighth … Arizona batted .336 as a team in the series and outscored UMass 30-13 on the weekend … Brad Glenn continued to put his early season slump behind him, hitting two doubles, scoring five runs and driving in two runs … After missing the previous three games, Dillon Baird returned to the lineup and went 4-for-9 at the plate with four runs scored on the weekend … Bobby Coyle went 6-for-14 at the plate with three runs and three RBI in the three games …  Guilmet and Matt Veltmann turned in two efficient starts on Friday and Sunday, earning their first victories of the season … Jason Stoffel closed out Sunday’s game with a dominant three inning performance in which he did not allow a hit to earn his third save of the season.

Arizona vs. Oklahoma State — The All-Time Series: Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 11-3, having recently defeated UA in both games of a two-game series in Stillwater, Okla., in 2008 … OSU won the first game in 2008 10-2, and edged the Wildcats 3-2 in the second game … The two teams first played in the 1954 College World Series, with OSU claiming a 5-4 victory over Arizona … Prior to 2008, the two teams previously met in 2003.

A Quick Glance at the Cowboys: OSU enters the mid-week series with a 9-2 record, having won three of four at the Palm Springs Invitational over the weekend … The Cowboys have 12 newcomers on the 2009 roster and one of deepest pitching staffs in the nation … A total of 16 different players have made at least on appearance in the first 11 games, with 11 pitchers throwing more two innings or more … The staff has struck out 101 batters thus far on the season, but has allowed opponents to hit .292 on the season … Offensively, five OSU players are hitting over .300 to pace a team that hits .293 overall … Doug Kroll leads the team with 17 RBI and five home runs early in the year … The Cowboys are coached by Frank Anderson, who is in his sixth season with the school.

Closing Time: Jason Stoffel continues to close out games for the Wildcats at a record-breaking clip. In fact, each save he earns the rest of the way in his career will break his own career record for saves. On Feb. 20, Stoffel earned his 19th career save to surpass Mark Melancon as the program’s all-time leader in the category. Now, the Baseball American pre-season first team All-American stands alone with 21 career saves. On the season, Stoffel has pitched in 14.1 innings and allowed only three runs (1.88 ERA), while striking out 21 batters and issuing only two walks.

Off to the Races: The Wildcats are in the midst of a rigorous schedule that includes only six off days in the first month of the season. The Wildcats are in the middle of a stretch of 18 games in 24 days. Fortunately, a two-game road trip to UNLV in late February was the only time spent away from home. UA will conclude its current 13-game homestand with Oklahoma State (two games) and then with a three game series against Michigan this weekend. Arizona will then settle into a more manageable schedule, playing only weekend series over the next month.

Sharing the Production: Looking at the stat sheet, it’s hard to point to only one or two Wildcats as the top run producers in the lineup. In fact, 12 different Wildcats have scored at least six runs on the season, while 14 different players have three or more RBI. Bryce Ortega leads UA with 16 runs scored on the season, while Jett Bandy leads the club with 13 RBI.

Extra Bases: Through 13 games, the Wildcats have collected 121 hits and are hitting .322 as a team. More impressive, nearly half (60) of those base hits have gone for extra bases, including 41 doubles, 10 triples and nine home runs. That has yielded a .506 team slugging percentage. Bobby Coyle has spread the hits around the most, with a team-high 18 hits, including three doubles, three triples and a homerun on the season.

Butler Stepping Up: Junior catcher Daniel Butler has been one of the top surprises early in the season, showing an improved bat to compliment his defensive skills. Butler has started nine of UA’s first 13 games at catcher or DH and has gone 13-for-35 (.371) at the plate, which is third on the team. He has scored sevenruns and driven in eight, while slugging .571 and reaching base at a .511 clip.

Mix and Match: Due to a handful of nagging injuries, head coach Andy Lopez has been forced to shuffle his lineup on nearly a daily basis. In fact, only sophomore outfielder Bobby Coyle has started every game in 2009, and even he has been moved back and forth defensively between left field and center field. In all, 14 different Wildcats have started a game, with 12 making at least four starts through the first 10 games. Additionally, UA has not used the same batting order more than once on the entire season.

Swipin’ Bags: The Wildcats were second in the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 91 in 2008, and this 2009 version may be in line to challenge that mark. Through 13 games, Arizona has stolen a conference-leading 30 bases and been caught only four times (88 percent). Bryce Ortega (7-for-7) and Hunter Pace (both 6-for-6) lead Arizona in the category, but 10 different players have stolen at least one base.

Moving Up: Bryce Ortega opened the season batting out of the No. 9 slot in the order. Last week he was moved up to the No. 2 spot, and was inserted as the leadoff hitter on Sunday when Rafael Valenzuela missed a game with a hamstring injury Ortega’s rise to the top of the order is due to his consistency, proving to be on of the club’s top offensive threats early in the season. Ortega leads the team with 13 runs scored (five more than the next Wildcat) and is tied for the most RBI on the team with nine. The sophomore shortstop is hitting .400 (13-for-32) on the season and has an on-base percentage of .541. Once on base, Ortega has been the top base-stealer, stealing five bases in five attempts.

Two-Out Pitching: Heading into the UMass series, one of the areas the Arizona pitching staff needed to improve was pitching tough with runners on base and two outs. Before the series, opponents, who were hitting .304 overall against UA pitching, were hitting even better with runners on base in scoring situations. With runners on base and two outs, opponents were hitting .342 (30-for-86) on the season. With runners in scoring position and two outs, opponents were hitting .355 (22-for-62) on the season. The UA staff showed improvement over the weekend in those situations, as the season numbers dropped following the UMass series. Now through 13 games, opponents are hitting .339 (.003 improvement) with runners on and two outs and .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs (.022 improvement).

Hitting in the Clutch: While the season is young, the Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate with runners in scoring position. Arizona is hitting .369 on the season with runners in scoring position and .673 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 33 runs in 9 chances. Individually, Bobby Coyle (10-for-26, .385), Jett Bandy (9-for-25, .360) and Bryce Ortega (8-for-18, .444) have been the most frequent Wildcats to have chances with runners in scoring position. Codi Harshman leads the team with the highest average (.677), but has only had six at-bats with runners on base. Lastly, the Wildcats have 47 two-out RBI on the season, accounting for nearly half of the teams 102 RBI to date.

Young, But Talented: A total of 12 players with no prior Arizona experience have already played key roles for the Wildcats this season either as starters or key reserves. Offensively, Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy have found every day roles in the lineup, while newcomers are in the regular pitching rotation. That does not include Matt Chaffee or Joe Allison, each who are in their second year in the program but making their most significant contributions.

Steady Behind the Plate: Arizona has the luxury of playing two excellent defensive players behind the plate. Juniors Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler both will help mentor a young Wildcat pitching staff as they bring a wealth of experience to the field. Childs (40) and Butler (19) split the starting duties a year ago and will continue to do so this season to keep each other fresh. Already in 2009, both have proved valuable behind the plate as they have been on the receiving end of 104 strikeouts (8.0 per game) from the UA pitching staff.

Flying Under the Radar: Since Andy Lopez took over the Arizona baseball program the Wildcats have made a return to the national scene. After disappearing nationally nearly all together from 1994-2001, Arizona has made five postseason appearances (2003-05, 2007-08) in the last six seasons, has played for four regional championships (2004-05, 2007-08) – winning two of them (2004 and 2008), won a super regional title (2004), and made its 15th trip to Omaha (2004). Impressive feats on that very basic level, but when you factor in that UA still hasn’t hosted a postseason game at home since 1992, the simple fact that Lopez and Wildcats have been able to achieve so much on the road makes it just that more impressive.

Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats’ skipper with a 256-163-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 945-581-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramento State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.

Strong Finish: After bottoming out at a season-low .193 with the batting average after going 0 for 5 against Indiana State on April 11, Brad Glenn went on a tear at the plate to finish the 2008 season. Over the final 30 games of 2008, Glenn hit a team-best .373 and drove in a team-high 35 runs over the final half of the season. In addition, he led all Wildcats with 34 runs scored over the stretch, and tied Jon Gaston for the second-most homeruns in the 30 games (8). He also posted the team’s top mark for slugging percentage (.667) and was second in on-base percentage (.441).

One More Time Around: Senior RHP Preston Guilmet returns for his senior year and should lead the UA staff once again as the Friday Night starter. Guilmet currently ranks No. 4 in UA history with 326 strikeouts and needs 97 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 325.1 innings in his three seasons at UA, and has a chance to become UA’s all-time leader in the category (Ed Vosberg, 405.1). He stands at No. 6 in program history in fewest walks per nine innings at 2.46. Additionally, his 21 career wins are six shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA.

Pitching Has Been Pretty Special: Under head coach Andy Lopez, the Wildcat pitching staff has re-written the record books. Here’s a look at some of the notable tidbits:

 

- Two Pitchers Selected in the First Round of the MLB Draft in 2008

- Four 10-Game Winners Since 2004      

- Nine Different Pitchers Selected in the First 10 Rounds of the MLB Draft Since 2003

- Top Three Strikeout Staffs in School History in Three of the Last Four Years

            - Broke School Record For Lowest Opponent Batting Average in 2007 and 2008

- Four times under Lopez UA has recorded the second-most saves in a season

- Preston Guilmet One of Four UA Pitchers With 300+ Strikeouts

- Top 5 Nationally in Strikeouts Per Nine Innings Last Two Seasons

More Pitching Props: Here’s a look at some more pitching marks set by the 2007 and 2008 pitching staffs:

 

2008 – Set School Record with 572 Strikeouts

2008 – School Record Seven Shutouts Most Since 1976

2008 – Three Pitchers Named All-Pac-10

2007 – Lowest Team ERA in 30 Years (3.90)

2007 – Fewest Home Runs Allowed in 34 Years (20)

2007 – Fewest Hits (516) Allowed in 30 Years

2007 – Fewest Runs (273) Allowed in 30 Years

2007 - Fewest Earned Runs (228) Allowed in 30 Years

2007 – Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet

2007 – 386 out of 527 Innings Pitched Were Shutout Innings (73%)

Early Recognition: Several Wildcats have received some notable pre-season media attention and are on watch lists for some of the nation’s top honors. Here is the list:

Pre-Season Honors

Jason Stoffel (’09 Junior) – Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American;  BaseballInsider.com Pre-Season Second Team All-American; Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American (Third Team), Preseason NCBWA All-American (Third Team), 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List; Rivals.com Pre-Season All-Conference

Preston Guilmet (’09 Senior) – Rivals.com Preseason Top 10 Returning Senior, 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List

Bryce Ortega (’09 Sophomore) - 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List

 

On Deck: Arizona will host Michigan for a three-game non-conference series beginning on Friday, March 13. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Jerry Kindall Field. Please note that the start times for Saturday and Sunday’s game are at 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday’s game will be broadcast live in Tucson on 1290 A.M.

 

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